Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bookmarks in Libraries

I’m continuing to use public libraries as a mechanism for distributing my large edition letterpress work. I printed about 270 bookmarks with the second (hopeful) part of my Big Storm poem, the storm dates and this URL. I also embossed the Te Kowhai Print Trust kowhai blossom onto them because it is such a pretty decorative element, and to honour the wonderful place where I do my work. And then I mailed* a little stack of bookmarks to every library in Northland with a letter asking the librarian to put them out where people could see them and take one if they wanted.

The idea for printing bookmarks and giving them away through libraries is lifted directly from Centre For Fine Print Research's Bookmark project. A kind reader of this blog directed me to their website in response to one of the Addicted to Capitalism posts. Unfortunately I was too late to sign up for this year’s international project, but the idea of making some bookmarks was too compelling to be postponed until next year.

I like the way that sending out the After the Big Storm bookmarks links up the libraries and gifting elements of my Addicted to Capitalism postcards, and the creative and emotional epiphanies of my Big Storm books, and grounds those themes in the here and now of my region this winter, Northland in July 2007.

I’ve also been thinking about what it means to have created what I think of as tiny pieces of art, multiples, a hand-made, hand-crafted edition of poetry and letterpress: the words set letter by lead letter and every one of those strips of card handled by me through three different pieces of cast-iron antique technology; and then to put it out into the world to sit on a table surrounded by the social marketing ephemera that is also given away in public libraries.

My thinking weaves ideas about ‘new genre public art’ and non-traditional audiences; creativity and compassion; how art and books and text and letterpress are valued and recognised (or not) and my place in/out of the Art and Literature Worlds; the history of letterpress printing as a catalyst for radical change… all these ideas woven together like a kete (basket) carrying the bookmarks out to little libraries in little towns digging themselves out of the mud while it just keeps on raining**.

What the bookmarks will mean to the librarians and library users who receive or choose them, I would love to know. I hope that someone who encounters an After the Big Storm bookmark is moved to comment here or contact me directly and tell me their reaction. But my rigorous non-attachment training through writing poetry in chalk this wet winter makes me feel (mostly) equable that I may never know the fate of a single one of my bookmarks. I am free to imagine some crumpled in the recycling bin and some treasured in precious books- both outcomes seem likely and while I prefer to envision more of the latter, the possibility of former doesn’t distress me.

* Delightfully I was able to stamp the envelopes with these very cool stamps which play with language and some kind of heat sensitive technology in a kooky and kitch manner. Sometimes I love New Zealand’s civic quirkiness so much.

** Last time I went to the library I didn’t borrow an otherwise desirable book because it was so freshly moldy and damp that I didn’t want to bring it home. Another book I did borrow turned out to be more discreetly rotting and it’s pungent fumes hit me whenever I go near the pile of books. Another legacy of the weather, like all the fallen trees everywhere. I wonder how many library books have been damaged or lost in the storms? Is anyone counting that cost to Northland?


Jane in Dunedin said...

Count me in....

núria said...

I'm a bokmark collector from
Spain, I've read about your bookmarks in a website,
can I've have some of this interesting bookmarks?
I usually exchange boomarks wirh collectors from over the world, are you interested in any exchange?
Maybe bookmarks, maybe books, cards ... any thing you are interested to let me know.

Leigh, a young girl from Hari Hari, South Westland, lived for ten months, a year ago, in my home, so I'm very interested in New Zealand news.
You can visit my blog where I show a litle part of my collection

My e-mail address is:
Thank you very much!!